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The Texas OBSERVER The Texas Observer Publishing Co., 1977 Ronnie Dugger, Publisher Vol. 69, No. 21 November 4, 1977 Incorporating the State Observer and the East Texas Demo crat, which in turn incorporated the Austin Forum-Advocate. EDITOR Jim Hightower MANAGING EDITOR Lawrence Walsh ASSOCIATE EDITOR Laura Richardson EDITOR AT LARGE Ronnie Dugger PRODUCTION MANAGER: Lois Rankin ASSISTANT EDITORS: Colin Hunter, Linda Rocawich, Susan Reid STAFF ASSISTANTS: Vicki Vaughan, Bob Sindermann, Margaret Watson, Chris Hearne, Kathy Tally, Debi Pomeroy, Teresa Acosta, Mark Richardson, Eric Hartman, Tim Mahoney, David Guarino, Cathy Stevens, Debbie Wormser CONTRIBUTORS: Kaye NorthcOtt, Jo Clifton, Dave McNeely, Wade Roberts, Don Gardner, Warren Burnett, Rod Davis, Steve Russell; Paul Sweeney, Marshall Breger, Jack Hopper, Stanley Walker, Joe Frantz, Ray Reece, Laura Eisenhour, Dan Hubig, Ben Sargent, Berke Breathed, Eje Wray, Luther Sperberg, Roy Hamric, Tom. Bleich, Mark Stinson, Ave Bonar, Jeff Danziger A journal of free voices We will serve no group or party but will hew hard to the truth as we find it and the right as we see it. We are dedicated . to the whole truth, to human values above all interests, to the rights of humankind as the foundation of democracy; we will take orders from none but our own conscience, and never will we overlook or misrepresent the truth to serve the interests of the powerful or cater to the ignoble in the human spirit. The editor has exclusive control over the editorial policies and contents of the Observer. None of the other people who are associated with the enterprise shares this responsibility with him. Writers are responsible for their own work, but not for.anything they have ‘ tot themselves written, and in publishing them the editor does not necessarily-imply that he agrees with them because this is a journal of free voices. BUSINESS STAFF: Cliff Olofson, Alice Embree, Ricky . Cruz Published by Texas Observer Publishing Co., biweekly except for a three-weekinterval between issues twice a year, in January and July; 25 issues per year. Second-class postage paid at Austin, Texas. Publication no. 541300. years, $30. Foreign, except APO/FPO, $1 additional per year. Airmail, bulk orders, and group rates on request. Microfilmed by Microfilming Corporation of America, 21 Harristown Road, Glen Rock, N.J. 07452. Editorial and Business Offices: 7041218-’11F The Texas Observer 600 West 7th Street Austin, Texas 78701 512-4.77-0746 Carter is right Denison “Don’t you just feel sorry for these big oil companies?” my daddy asked one of the regulars in his Main Street news stand. “I saw where Exxon didn’t make more than about two-anda-half billion last year,” the fellow answered back.”Hardly enough to make it worth their while.” “No wonder they’re fighting Carter so hard,” daddy said, ringing up a 75 cent sale, plus three for the governor. “They need some more incentives.” “Well, we sure got some politicians who’ll help them get it,” the customer said going out the door. “Yeah,” daddy said after him, “Aren’t they a good bunch?” On Oct. 13, Jimmy Carter did what no president has dared to do since John Kennedy upbraided the nation’s steel magnates in 1961he stood up in public, took dead aim at some powerful corporationsand fired: the major oil companies, the President charged, were out to grab every buck they could from the energy crisis. At a Washington press conference, Carter said the oil giants “want it all” and that if they had their way with his energy program, “it will be the biggest ripoff in history.” In a word, Carter came right out and said the big oil refiners are greedy. The President is right on this score, of course, and if the Main Street habitues of Denison are at all representative, the people of the countryincluding Texansagree with him and will support a tough presidential stance against big oil. The major refiners, which have been bullying Carter’s energy proposals since their appearance on Capitol Hill, whined in unison when the :President struck back. “We’re under attack,” cried a Texaco spokesman. It was Texas’ elected officials and editorial writers, however, who wailed the loudest. The state’s politicians jumped to the defense of the Exxons and the Texacos as though Texas itself had been attacked by the Georgian. Governor Briscoe fumed, Senator Tower said he was puzzled by the President’s attack, Congressman Krueger was vexed, Railroad Commission Chairman Wallace was peevish and Senator Bentsen wrote his own defense of the oil firms and released it to the press. Not only did some Texas papers carry Bentsen’s apologia on their front pages, but they also turned their editorial writers loose. The Dallas Times-Herald, which is capable of better things, berated Carter for what it termed “nine minutes of almost unprecedented presidential bitterness.” They all protest too much. First, as Austin economist Jack Hopper points out in the latest issue of his Southwest Energy & Utility Watch, it may appear to an outsider that the voice of Exxon is the voice of Texas, but there are about 12 million residents of the Lone Star state who have no vested interest in higher energy prices and don’t much care for Exxon. There is a bigger energy constituency here than that represented by the Big Four or even the Big Hundred, and politicians do not necessarily serve either the public interest or their own by saddling up so quickly with the oil firms. Second, you don’t have to agree with Carter’s energy plan to see that he was correct in his assessment of big oil’s attempt to take more than is their due, given the country’s energy predicament. Examine the majors’ chief complaintthat Carter’s energy bill doesn’t give them enough economic incentive \(read: production to ease American dependence on foreign sources. “Only with a fair return on investment can the companies help produce our way out of this problem,” Gulf Oil said in a reply to Carter. “We use profits to create the jobs that provide more energy for this country,” claimed a spokesman for Shell Oil. Four points should be made in rebuttal to this more-profits/ more-oil line.